I can’t believe it has taken me so long to write you all about a fabulous evening we had at our local Earth to Table restaurant, Cha Bella, on August 3. I blame it on travel fatigue having just returned from a two-week jaunt from Savannah to Newfoundland to Boston and home to see family and friends.
Cha Bella hosted an evening in praise of the heirloom tomato with an amuse bouche and three courses. The palate teaser was a small bite of tomato with a basil cream delightfully followed up with the first course choice of a “BLT” salad of roasted golden tomatoes or the soup: a puree of slow oven roasted golden tomatoes with a sliver of pecorino, tempura avocado and a cilantro pesto. I chose the salad (a side note by the Chef indicated the salad was an homage to the all-American sandwich – but it was so much more): an assortment of baby and large heirlooms, Italian ham served crisp, baby arugula and a garlic-tomato aioli. Loved the salad, but my table-mates were equally infatuated with the soup!
There were four choices for the second course which were spectacular. The first entree choice was a slow-roasted beef brisket with heirlooms, polenta, baby Brussels sprouts and a tomato gravy. Second was a crispy-crusted local red snapper sitting on top of a creamy zipper pea succotash, crispy bacon, a sliced heirloom tomato and a local corn and tomato salsa. The third choice was fresh tomato primavera fettuccine with assorted fresh tomatoes, herbs, veggies and cheese. The fourth entrée to choose from was a crispy-seared chicken breast with a tomato olive gnocchi and eggplant Parmigiano. I finally settled on the fish, feeling that the tomatoes and the fish would be the light yet flavorful fare I was hoping for. The succotash and corn-tomato salsa were a delight and perfect with the delicacy of the red snapper.
Finally, Dessert!! From tomatoes? Indeed. I chose the gelatomato: two melon-ball sized treats: one of sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta and the other an heirloom tomato gelato. Another diner at the table had the cherry tomato fruit salad and berries topped with sweet mascarpone cheese.
Cha Bella announced this as the First Annual Heirloom Tomato Celebration and I for one am looking forward to next year’s flavors.